While it is true that, especially as a major release film, Hanna boasts a refreshing amount of originality, there certain déjà vu spices that sneak into the equation. Most immediately, its German location—largely tooling around shabbier quarters of Berlin—and the breathless chase scenes involving a young woman, which remind us of Tom Tykwer’s Run, Lola, Run, replete with adrenaline-pumping electronic music by Chemical Brothers. On less artful comparison turf, the lovely, brainwashed heroine on the run theme reminds of last year’s Angelina Jolie exercise video, Salt, replete with a similar spy-meets-sci-fi idea of rewiring young soldiers/assassins for deadly duty.
But never mind those pesky cinematic echoes, for a minute, and enjoy the ride, as Hanna is best viewed as a sensory ride, whose plot development is necessarily grounded in enigma and slowly unfolding, all-important backstory. Suffice to say, the supremely self-sufficient protagonist played by Saoirse Ronan, raised in the forest and readied for a life in the crosshairs, is one kick-ass teenager, even more than she knows.
A naturally gifted young actress, Ronan is an ideal powerhouse at the center of this restless road movie, which moves from a forest in Finland to a holding tank in Morocco to a gypsy camp in Spain and, finally, to the meaner streets of Berlin. Reportedly, Ronan was the one who, after various problems getting production rolling, inducted her Atonement director Joe Wright into the project, and he may not have been the right person for the job. Here, he creates a juggling act of nervous, relentless action elements and dramatic mesh of a not-so-innocent-childhood story. As for other appealing things to watch for, we have Cate Blanchett. Ever the sport and chameleon in whatever role she takes on, here Blanchett digs into her thin but sassy role as a hellbent CIA operative eager to clean up old messes, with extreme prejudice (not to mention a comically impeccable Armani wardrobe).
Sleek and visceral, visually stylish and pumped up with several places to go, Hanna keeps us entertained, even if it just misses the heart.